You should check out Arachnoboards, its absolutely astonishing how many of the users are reformed arachnophobes. A lot of them say tarantulas are an easier way to confront arachnophobia than small spiders. Something about their size makes them register as "small animals" rather than "scary spiders."
If you've got any temptation at all to keep tarantulas, you should definitely give it a try. You can absolutely keep them without ever having to touch them (in fact you should never come in contact with Old World species). And if you find it doesn't work out for you, they're very easy to get rehome. Most tarantula keepers will happily take them off your hands, but you may need to mail them if you don't know anyone locally.>>2292426
Aside from the pricetag, B. boehmei is an excellent second T. I find that my Costa Rican Zebras (A. seemanni) are a bit faster and more skittish than my North American Aphonopelma species, but shouldn't be too hard for a newbie as long as you're careful and keep a catch cup handy. I've never kept GBBs, but I hear they have a bit more speed and attitude. >>2292421
I've never heard of the handshake trick, but I've nudged my big female Aphono's foreleg to coax her to move her foot out of the way. She bitchslaps me every time :'( I do have a Homoeomma sp blue that likes sticking its leg out of the airholes on its tank. Sometimes I give it a hi5 for lulz (it always gets startled and pulls its leg back in though)
Honestly I'd never think to touch a tarantula in a wary posture like that, but it's a really interesting thought. Tarantula courtship (really they only time they interact) is mostly stroking each other's forelegs.